But the familial ties to the land, coupled with the pride in their work, are enough for the majority of farmers to vow that somehow, they will figure it out.
“If I quit now, I could still have a pretty comfortable life,” said Michael Stenzel, 45, a fourth-generation farmer in Hamburg, Iowa. Waist-high water still fills his fields, and it is unclear how he will discard the towering mounds of corn and soybeans, spilling out from split steel grain bins, that are now rotting away.
But, Mr. Stenzel added, “This is an awesome life.”
“I help feed the world,” he said. “The more farmers that quit and walk away, the more people that don’t get fed.”
Ultimately, as Washington wrestles with the disaster package, some of the farmers said they would look to Mother Nature, which wreaked the initial havoc, for stability moving forward: delayed rains, absorbent soil and most important, no more storms and floods.
As Mr. Cohen drove his pickup truck through what was left of his pecan grove, he occasionally stopped to look for signs of harvest, pulling down branches to see if there were flowers. The first tree, under duress and in the face of cold weather, had none. But farther down the row, he reached out to examine a small cluster of red buds.
“Hey, we’ll count that as a win today,” Mr. Cohen said jubilantly. “We’ve got five.”